The study offers welcome news for America's aging baby boomer population. The whole concept that the older brain in aging individuals can improve is really important right now, said Paul Sanberg, director of the University of South Florida's Center for Aging and Brain Repair. "The interesting thing is that less than 24 hours of training not only improved mental and cognitive functions, but also enhanced their ability to function in some other tasks," he said.
Researchers cautioned that questions remain about whether people with better cognitive abilities are naturally attracted to video games and other complex tasks, or whether the act of playing the video games boosted cognitive ability.
"Perhaps the brains of people who enjoy video games are very different than somebody who doesn't want that challenge," suggested Basak. "At this point, it's pure speculation."
"This would be a good type of experiment to combine with brain-imaging studies to see the effect of the training on these people, and whether there's increased activity in the brain and new connections," said Sanberg. "It's also nice to see if there's some correlation with actual brain function."
While a growing number of studies have found that playing video games can be beneficial, experts warn against too much of a good thing, noting that playing video games can be an isolating experience that mitigates other health benefits.
"Clearly mental exercises, whether through a game or another media outlet, aren't that bad, but you want to establish societal connections as well," cautioned Sanberg. "Doing too much of one thing might not be the best idea."
Basak suggests that playing strategy-based games such as chess or video games with other people might offer a way to achieve the same benefits without sacrificing social interaction.
"When we look at improvements in cognition, it's not just one thing that's
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